Many Chinese people like seeing Chinese medicine practitioners when they want to take care of their bodies. But what is traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)? How is it regulated in Hong Kong? What are the different types of TCM therapies? And how do you find a Chinese medicine practitioner?
This comprehensive guide will provide you with a detailed introduction to Chinese medicine. You’ll also find a listing of practicing Chinese medicine clinics, what kinds of fees to expect, and whether it’s covered by medical insurance.
TCM is a traditional medicine that originated from the Han Chinese and has a history of thousands of years. As a discipline, Chinese medicine studies topics like human physiology, pathology, and the diagnosis and prevention of diseases. Traditional Chinese medicine has a unique theoretical system derived from over 3,000 years of clinical experience.
Chinese medicine practitioners did not have the legal status to practice medicine in British Hong Kong. That changed in 1999, when the Hong Kong government established the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong in accordance with the Chinese Medicine Ordinance to regulate the trading of Chinese herbal medicines and set professional standards for Chinese medicine practitioners.
Today, Chinese medicine practitioners in Hong Kong must obtain a practicing certificate according to the law and abide by the Code of Practice for Chinese Medicine Practitioners.
According to the Hong Kong Department of Health, in the long run, only registered Chinese medicine practitioners will be allowed to practice Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. At the same time, to recognize the contributions made by Chinese medicine practitioners practicing in Hong Kong in the past, the Chinese Medicine Ordinance provided transitional arrangements for them. Chinese medicine practitioners who were practicing in Hong Kong on January 3, 2000 could apply to become listed Chinese medicine practitioners. According to their academic qualification and practicing experience in Chinese medicine, listed practitioners can become registered practitioners in three different ways (i.e. Direct Registration, Registration Assessment or Licensing Examination).
During the transitional period, both registered and listed Chinese medicine practitioners can legally practice Chinese medicine. When the Secretary for Health promulgates that the transitional period has come to an end, only registered Chinese medicine practitioners will be able to practice lawfully, and listed Chinese medicine practitioners will no longer be able to practice.
According to the information from the Chinese Medicine Regulatory Office of the Department of Health, in order to become a registered Chinese medicine practitioner in Hong Kong, an applicant must have completed an undergraduate degree course in Chinese medicine practice training approved by the Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board of the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong and pass the licensing examination organized by the Board. The website for the Chinese Medicine Council maintains a list of all registered Chinese medicine practitioners in Hong Kong.
Since the amendment to the Employment Ordinance came into effect on December 1, 2006, the sick leave certificates issued by registered Chinese medicine practitioners (including Chinese medicine practitioners with limited registration) have had legal effects, and employers are required to recognize these sick leave certificates submitted by employees. As for the medical certificates issued by listed Chinese medicine practitioners, it depends on whether your employer accepts them or not.
TCM mainly relies on the four diagnostics of inspection (望), auscultation and olfaction (聞), inquiry (問), and palpation (切).
Chinese medicine practitioners offer the following treatments:
Common reasons for seeing a TCM doctor include (but are not limited to):
Although more scientific evidence is needed to support the effectiveness of TCM, TCM has a certain therapeutic effect on many patients.
You can find the addresses and service hours of all Chinese Medicine Clinics cum Training and Research Centres here.
Be aware that waiting times at public hospitals can be long.
There are also traditional Chinese medicine clinics in various districts in Hong Kong. Some Chinese medicine clinics are listed below for reference:
|Chung Shek Fai Clinic||Address: Shop 1A, G/F, San Fung Building, 33 San Fung Avenue, Sheung Shui, New Territories|
Tel: 2682 2567
|Faithmed Chinese Medicine Clinic||Address: Room 2203, 22Nd Floor, Phase 2, Metroplaza Office Building, 223 Hing Fong Road, Kwai Fong, New Territories|
Tel: 5542 3193
|Ho Kit Wah Clinic||Address: Room 502, Canton House, 54 Queen's Road Hong Kong, Central, Hong Kong Island|
Tel: 2525 5855
|Ho Wai Yan Clinic||Address: 15Th Floor, Fung Lok Building, 56 Queen's Road Hong Kong, Central, Hong Kong Island|
Tel: 9527 4272
|Joyful And Health Chinese Medicine Centre (Fo Tan)||Address: No. 103 Galleria, No. 18-24 Sha Mei Street, Fo Tan, New Territories|
Tel: 3482 2331
|Lo Hing Ying Clinic||Address: Room 1008, 10Th Floor, China United Centre, 28 Marble Road, North Point, Hong Kong Island|
Tel: 2180 9398
|Ng Choi Ling Clinic||Address: Rm A, 10/F, Kam Wah Building, 514-516 Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon|
Tel: 3486 6823
|UE Chinese Medicine Clinic||Address: G/F, Rear Block, Nathan Apartments, 510 Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon|
Tel: 5600 0319
You can search for a Chinese medicine practitioner by location in the Healthy Matters clinic directory.
In order to provide CM out-patient services as part of rehabilitation for COVID-19 infected people with post-COVID conditions who were discharged from local public hospitals or had finished isolation at tripartite CM Clinic cum Training and Research Centers (CMCTRs), the Hospital Authority launched the "Special CM Out-patient Programme for COVID-19 infected Persons" in April 2020 (eligible Hong Kong residents only). The Programme offers general CM consultations, subject to clinical evaluation and health circumstances (acupuncture, bone-setting/Tui-na, and other CM therapies are not covered by the Programme). For details and the list of Chinese medicine clinics, please refer to the HA website.
Similar to other medical services, charges for Chinese medicine practitioner services can vary widely depending on the clinic’s location, practitioner’s experience and TCM services provided.
According to our research, the cost of a single consultation at most outpatient TCM clinics in fairly local areas of Hong Kong is usually between HK$120 and $300, excluding the TCM prescription. The price can go higher (ranging from HK$1,100 to $2,000) if acupuncture treatment is included. For the exact fees, please consult individual clinics.
To promote the development of "evidence-based Chinese medicine" and outpatient Chinese medicine services in the public sector, and to provide job opportunities for graduates of local Chinese medicine undergraduate programs, the Hospital Authority has set up 18 Chinese Medicine Clinics cum Training and Research Centres (CMCTRs) in 18 districts in Hong Kong.
The service charges of each of the CMCTRs are different, but they are relatively affordable. Please contact the clinic for the actual charges.
In addition, the CMCTRs now provide government-subsidized Chinese medicine services (with a quota) to eligible patients (eligible Hong Kong residents). The fee is fixed at HK$120 per attendance for general consultation (including Chinese medicine prescription for no more than 5 days) and each treatment-related acupuncture, bone-setting and massage service. The fee is waived for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients and seniors over 75 who receive the Old Age Living Allowance.
*All amounts are in HKD. Last updated in October 2022. This website is not responsible for any inaccuracies or errors. Before using the service, it is best to call ahead for the latest information.
According to Alea, most local medical insurance plans cover TCM treatment under outpatient benefits as it is common in Hong Kong. Beware that such coverage is generally subject to a reimbursement limit per visit and limited to a fixed number of visits per year. As for international health insurance policies, Chinese medicine is also reimbursed under outpatient benefits and most often subject to a sub-limit under Complementary medicines. Beware of sub-limits and whether your plan cover treatment provided by listed Chinese Medicine Practitioners. Depending on the plan and insurer, a GP referral letter may be required to receive reimbursement.
In the long run, only registered Chinese medicine practitioners can practice Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. Listed Chinese medicine practitioners are transitional arrangements for Chinese medicine practitioners who were previously practicing in Hong Kong. Only sick leave certificates issued by registered Chinese medicine practitioners are legally valid, and some insurance plans only cover services provided by registered Chinese medicine practitioners.
The TCM will provide treatments such as prescription of Chinese medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, massage and bone setting, fumigation and bathing, as well as dressing application of TCM.
In Chinese medicine, one of the causes of obesity is the depletion of yang qi in the spleen and stomach and lack of motivation to transport and transform food. Because nutrients cannot be effectively absorbed and consumed, they are stored in the body. TCM can help with weight loss through therapies such as acupuncture.
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.
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